A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965 Coup in Indonesia

A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965 Coup in Indonesia

A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965 Coup in Indonesia

A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965 Coup in Indonesia

Excerpt

In the immediate aftermath of the abortive “coup” of October 1, 1965, it was plain that a major turning-point in the history of Indonesia had occurred. But, if this was clear, virtually everything else about Lieutenant Colonel Untung’s September 30th Movement was obscure, both to outside observers and to the vast majority of Indonesians. Next to nothing was known about the identity and history of Untung himself, or of his closest associates, their motives and aspirations, and their relationships to the major longstanding protagonists in the Indonesian political drama. The obscurity that surrounded Untung’s movement, combined with its historic importance as the catalyst for the inauguration of military hegemony in Indonesia on the ruins of Sukarno’s Guided Democracy, immediately made it the object of widespread discussion and speculation. It was in order to develop some factual basis for a more informed discussion of the September 30th Movement, and also to work out some preliminary ideas about its genesis and place in Indonesian political history, that in the last three months of 1965, Ruth McVey, Frederick Bunnell and I began to go carefully through the metropolitan and provincial Indonesian press, exchanging information as we proceeded. It soon became clear that in spite of our rather different approaches, we were coming to quite similar conclusions. The ideas we developed were presented at a number of informal seminars at Cornell University, and, while they were criticized sharply in many important respects, the response was favorable enough to encourage us to circulate them to a somewhat wider group of friends and colleagues for their information, comments and criticisms. Accordingly, Ruth McVey and I wrote up the two pieces, which together form the text that follows.

Because of the provisional character of our analyses, and because of their controversial conclusions, we asked our colleagues to treat them . . .

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